Summary of evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of children and young people

Date: 10th December 2020
Category: COVID-19, Basic Health and Welfare

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This is the fourth evidence summary on the impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of children and families in Scotland. The summary focuses upon newer Scottish studies relating to children and families living in poverty; black and minority ethnic young people; and families impacted by disability. It draws on wider UK research where necessary.

Several common themes have been identified which could be helpful when considering post-lockdown policy responses.

The evidence gathered in October 2020 suggests:

  • Young people who came out of lockdown were concerned about: COVID-19 transmission, adapting to COVID-19 measures in schools (physical distancing) and worries about future aspirations and longer term financial and job security.
  • There have been little or only modest differences in mental wellbeing for young people over lockdown compared to pre-lockdown baselines, apart from girls, lower income households, young people with special educational needs and disabilities and those with an additional language.
  • Families’ wellbeing has been impacted by poor quality housing, lack of outdoor spaces and digital exclusion.
  • Nearly one in ten children may have experienced bereavement due to COVID-19.
  • There has been an increase in the number of families with financial difficulties which has had detrimental effect on many families’ mental health and their ability to put food on the table.
  • ‘Vulnerable’ families who were eligible for a place in the school hubs have not taken up the offer, in part due to stigma.
  • Primary-school-aged-children have been exposed to a greater risk of experiencing a sustained loss of play and regular peer interaction during the pandemic.
  • Children who were isolating or shielding (or living with a family member who was) faced adverse impacts due to isolating, leaving children feeling forgotten and feeling that the messaging and support services were inappropriate and aimed at the over 70s.
  • Majority of families with disabled children had still not received the support they need, particularly in educational psychology, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy.
  • Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Children and Young People have felt disadvantaged (compared to their white peers) in relation to their education and future opportunities. Police presence has had a disproportionate impact on the opportunities for BME young people to exercise and socialise during lockdown.
  • Care experienced young people have been most at risk of COVID-19 impacting their mental health due to loneliness, social isolation and lack of digital access.
  • Children have been exposed to increased levels of abuse, online bullying and online sexual abuse.

Read the summary here.